"We'd save the planet, then the music industry"
After 25 years in the French music industry, you’d expect Igor Stanislas and Manu MacManus to be fighting for stricter laws against illegal downloading. Not quite... They’d rather see the government tackling animal rights abuses and pollution.
Igor Stanislas (left) and Manu MacManus (right) have been writing music together for more than two decades. Four years ago, they formed the folk-pop band Igor and the Hippie Land. As an unsigned band, they buy their own instruments and pay to record their music themselves. They consider illegal downloaders petty criminals. And yet, they are far from avid advocates of Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial “Hadopi” law, which threatens repeat offenders with a €1,500 fine and a one-year internet ban.
Igor and Manu think French politicians spend too much time indulging in petty catfights and not enough time addressing real problems. Neither of them are impressed by any of the ten presidential candidates. Igor describes the election campaign as “a circus that he can’t ignore,” accusing the media of sensationalism. But that doesn’t mean they’re not bothered about politics. They just don’t want politics to bother them.
“The French music industry is square”
For Igor and Manu, the Ministry of Culture (annual budget: €7.4 billion), is one arm of an unjust administration which is too closely tied to media giants. So what do they expect from their government? Manu answers first.
“Hadopi is designed for rich musicians”
Igor thinks Hadopi is a “good law” for musicians but impractical to implement. “You can’t have someone sat behind every web user.” Manu on the other hand – who admits to a little illegal downloading himself – believes that the law was created for music giants and not independent musicians, but will hopefully evolve to protect smaller outfits too.
“Music sounds better in English than in French”
Like many French artists, Igor and Manu sing a lot of their tracks in English. “Pop and rock and roll is from the English-speaking world, not France,” Igor says. “Besides," adds Manu, "song lyrics sound much better in English than in French.” The pair, who spent four years living in London in the 1980s, are part of a growing number of French artists who choose to ignore the government’s attempts to preserve French language singing (for example, radio stations risk a fine if less than 40% of the songs they play are in French). Manu explains why.
“Environment and animal rights should come first”
If Igor or Manu were president? Despite their personal experiences with the “square” and “unjust” French music industry, both Igor and Manu believe that there are more important issues to be addressed before transforming the French art world. Manu answers first.
Thanks to guitar shop extraordinaire, Dupont des Arts, for hosting us.
Igor and the Hippie Land’s “Country Boy” and “I Love Kennedy” (featured tracks) are out soon.
Below, Igor and Manu recording their latest album.